When I was first introduced to the subject the argument ran that the bouffons were amoral because every suppression, pogrom and persecution had been in the name of moral purpose; that individuals had to suffer for the greater good. An assertion of global ideals, incomprehensible in a local context, would inevitably lead to unfortunate local consequences. Bouffons suffered from an excess of moral zeal. However, in these times, when the free-market, American model of capitalism operates with mathematical indifference to public benefit, like a computer programme that has survival-of- the-fittest and profit maximisation as its primary factors and that takes no account of social effects, bouffons reflect this amorality back. We can observe this in the August rioters lack of morality. Taught to aspire to the heaven of fame and fortune ( as a replacement for a belief system) by the all pervasive advertising bombardment but living in the hell of denied access to them, they simply replicated the amorality of the market. How morally different is the robbing of an injured foreigner to the asset stripping of Cadbury's by Kraft?
The 'amorality' of bouffons is based on survival at any cost. Back in the 1970's Colin Turnbull's grim account of the the starving African tribe, The Ik, was turned into a theatrical production by Peter Brook. The account described how the frail and old were ridiculed for their weakness as they were stoned to death so that the stronger could use their food ration. This week, Channel 4's Unreported World focussed on Christian preachers in Nigeria who promote the idea of personal wealth as being a sign of spiritual righteousness, offering their own ostentatious displays of wealth as examples of worthiness. Their crude exploitation of the gullible seems not so far from the self-righteous justification of wealth from the defenders of the disproportionate salary increases paid to chief executives this week. They claim that they are paid what they are worth even though they set the rates for each other through salary review boards.
Post-modernism, as I understand it, sees any morality as the construct of a particular perspective, neither better nor worse than any other form of self-justification. Like the free-marketeers, the advocates of Post -Modernism would dispute ideas of 'right' and 'wrong' as having no objective meaning. For example that the deaths of millions of human beings through starvation has no relevance to those people whose sense of well-being is centred on their own standard of living. This is the world we live in. The morality of our affluent, educated middle-class (who are the prime producers and consumers of theatre) may seem like a self-serving luxury to those rejects and outsiders who are beyond the reach of good intentions, so it is not surprising if they make fun of it.